Are Antibiotics Necessary for the Common Cold?

The common cold is a viral infection that affects the nose and throat with associated sneezing, headaches, and cough. The rhinovirus is the most common type of virus that causes colds; however, there are more than 200 viruses that may cause the common cold. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses and are used to treat bacterial infections.

One of the largest misconceptions is that the color of the mucus suggests a bacterial infection. A patient can have yellow or green mucus and still have the common cold. The most important sign that would indicate a bacterial infection is present is the duration of symptoms. The American Academy of Otolaryngology guidelines for acute sinusitis require the presence of symptoms for greater than 7 to 10 days before being considered a bacterial infection. In addition, symptoms of the common cold may last for up to two weeks with cough and post nasal drip being the last symptoms to go away. Read more

The Most Common Inherited Heart Disease: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common inherited heart disease; it causes thickening of the heart muscle without a clinical cause to explain the extent of thickening observed.

HCM causes symptoms of dyspnea or shortness of breath, chest pain, exercise intolerance, syncope or fainting, and uncommonly, sudden cardiac death (SCD). It affects individuals of all ages but most commonly presents after age 30. Many patients with HCM have a relatively benign course and can have normal life expectancy, and symptoms can be managed with first-line pharmacologic agents like beta blockers or verapamil. However, a quarter of patients will experience in their course either severe disabling symptoms or SCD. Read more

Nutrition Trends – Separating Fact and Fiction

The nutrition world is constantly buzzing with new trends and the latest and greatest “it” diet or food–many of which aren’t backed by sound nutritional evidence. Separating the trends from the facts is a big part of my job as a registered dietitian. Here are a few thoughts on some of the latest newsmakers and trends of 2015:

Gut health.

Research continues to point to an increasingly important role the gut plays in our overall well-being. Probiotics have been shown to help relieve gastrointestinal symptoms (think bloating, constipation and diarrhea), environmental allergic reactions and may even reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms. From fermented foods and drinks (kimchi or kombucha, anyone?) to our favorite yogurt standbys, keeping our intestines happy should be a priority this year. Read more

Tips for curbing a sugar habit in the New Year

If you think you eat too much sugar, you probably do, and you’re not alone in satisfying your sweet tooth. This infographic illustrates the extent to which Americans overindulge. On average, Americans consume 765 grams sugar, the equivalent of 17 12-ounce sodas every 5 days. Our typical intake is 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, compared to the American Heart Association recommendation of no more than 9.5 teaspoons. Read more

Don’t Get Tricked By Too Many Treats!

Not only is Halloween candy lining drugstore aisles, but it seems to have taken residence at the workplace (those pesky candy dishes!), supermarket shelves and even the doctor’s office. The holiday of ghouls and goblins not only brings plenty of tricks and scary costumes, but it signifies the start to a holiday season filled with treats. Healthy habits you’ve worked so hard to instill can fall by the wayside as Halloween candy transitions to pecan pie, Christmas cookies and fruitcakes. The good news is that we’re here to help you navigate the holidays and help you maintain a healthy balance. First up: Halloween! Read more

“Consumers Expecting Free ‘Preventive’ Care Sometimes Surprised By Charges”

The Kaiser Health News reported “The new health-care law encourages people to get the preventive services they need by requiring that most health plans cover cancer screenings, contraceptives and vaccines, among other things, without charging patients anything out of pocket. Some patients, however, are running up against coverage exceptions and extra costs when they try to get those services.

Read more

“Like All Victims Of The Single Best Answer Syndrome, (The Doctor) Ordered Tests …”

“… in wild profusion because, in his experience, every question had an answer and a test that would get you there.”

We have become a society where test scores are associated with success so it is not surprising that this has become a controversy in physician education.

Recently an article in the New York Times noted: “My young friend had just finished the last months of his medical training. He had faced down many multiple-choice tests and triumphed over them all.”

Read more

“What Personal Care Hospitalized Patients Now Get Is Mostly From Nurses.”

“When nursing is not optimal, patient care is never good.”

It’s always interesting and illuminating what we learn from physicians who report on their experiences as hosptalized patients.

The New York Times article reported about the hospitalization experience of a legendary physician.

“Last June, the month he turned 90, Dr. Arnold S. Relman, the eminent former medical educator and editor, fell down a flight of stairs at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He cracked his skull and broke three vertebrae in his neck and more bones in his face.”

Read more

Ebola In West Africa: Four Questions For The U.S. Response Going Forward

The Kaiser Famly Foundation noted: “As of August 14, 2014, the Ebola virus has infected an estimated 1,975 individuals across four countries in West Africa, leading to 1,069 deaths (including three Americans). The official reported numbers, frightening as they are, likely vastly underestimate the true magnitude of the outbreak. Ebola has severely impacted the daily life of affected communities, and raised concerns across the globe about its ongoing spread. The fact that this outbreak has led to so many cases and deaths (approximately 45% of all cases of Ebola ever reported have come since March of this year) is concerning for the individuals and families struggling with the disease, and leads to questions regarding the global capacity to detect and respond to such events. It also brings up four key policy questions for the U.S. concerning its engagement with the international community’s efforts to combat Ebola and other emerging infectious disease outbreaks.”

Read more